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In 55 patients after oophorectomy and 20 women ater natural menopause an oral estrogen replacement therapy was performed with estrone-sulfate, estradiol 17-valerate, estriol-succinate, a combination of micronized estradiol and estriol (Estrifam®, Trisequens®), and natural conjugated estrogens. In 4 patients a 3 mg estradiol per 5 g ointment substance was applied on the abdominal skin.
The interindividual variations of estrogen increments during therapy were considerably high. Oral intake of 2 mg estriol-succinate daily was followed by a 500% increase of total (conjugated + unconjugated) estriol. Concentrations of unconjugated estrogens were not altered by this dosage. Following oral application of the other above mentioned preparations, prominent rises - especially of unconjugated estrogens in plasma - were noted. The concentration peaks ocurred within 3–6 h after application. Unconjugated estradiol-17β in plasma was comparable with values of the follicular phase of a normal menstrual cycle, unconjugated estrone, however, was nonphysiologically high. Consequently, the E1/E2 ratio was greater than one whereas it is normally below one. 12 h after oral estrogen application, plasma estrogens dropped to almost initial values, so that a second medication seems to be necessary in order to guarantee an adequate supplementation over the course of the day.
The hormone values determined in this study did not show significant differences between patients after a natural menopause and after oophorectomy. There was a positive correlation between rising estrogen levels and suppressed gonadotrophins during replacement therapy. The occurrence of climacteric symptoms did not exclusively depend on low estrogen and high gonadotrophin levels.
Good tolerance of estrogen therapy with significantly elevated estrogen concentrations in plasma can be obtained transcutaneously in the form of estrogen ointments. Such therapy might simulate the physiological estrogen pattern even better than oral application does because of delayed and diluted steroid flow to the liver.
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Accepted: October 16, 1978
Received: July 14, 1978
© 1979 Published by Elsevier Inc.